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Opening Statement for The Honorable Ike Skelton (D-MO), Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives Full Committee Hearing on Weapons Inspections in Iraq
September 10, 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for convening this hearing. In the last week, President Bush has made clear to the Congress and to the American people his determination to remove Saddam Hussein from power and to neutralize the threat posed by the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program. What the administration has not yet explained is the President’s plan for achieving this regime change and disarmament and how these actions will affect the United States’ ability to conduct the broader war on terrorism and its other interests
around the world.
Recent polls have shown that the majority of the American people support addressing the Iraqi threat, but that they prefer an approach that has congressional authorization and that works with the United Nations. The polls also show that the American people have questions about why we might have to use military force in Iraq, what the risks are of doing so, and what the United States must be prepared to do in the long-term to
make sure that Iraq doesn’t threaten its neighbors or the United States
with its military or with weapons of mass destruction. I share their questions and have told the President this. We may well need to take steps—including military action—against Iraq in the near future, but we
must ask the basic questions of why, why now, and how.
The best way to get answers is through hearings like this one. Before the administration and the Congress can decide on the best course of action, we must clearly understand the threat. The witnesses before us, Dr. David Kay and Dr. Richard Spertzel, have both served on teams in Iraq as part of United Nations-sponsored inspections and have knowledge of Iraqi WMD programs through the withdrawal of UN
inspectors in 1998.
Gentlemen, I hope you will both be able to help this committee understand the likely state of the Iraqi weapons program. What do we know for sure about Iraqi capabilities at this point and what information do we have to infer based on imperfect knowledge? What would it take to know exactly what capabilities the Iraqis have? What approaches short of an invasion and regime change could help destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? From your perspective working with international organizations, what are the benefits of a multilateral approach to
addressing this problem? And critically, must we act now? What is
different from this moment in time than the last four years or the next
year or two?
Any decision to act against Iraq must begin with answers to basic questions about the nature of the danger and the immediacy of the threat. From there, Congress can exercise its constitutional responsibility by examining any administration plan and timetable for dealing with this threat. I thank both witnesses for being with us today and sharing their expertise. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Richard O. Spertzel, VMD Ph.D. 10 September 2002
House Armed Service Committee
Iraq's Biological Weapons (BW) Program was among the most secretive of its weapons-of-massdestruction (WMD) programs. Its existence was not acknowledged until July 1995. From 1991 to 1995, Iraq categorically denied it had a BW program and took active steps to conceal the program from the UN Special Commission. This pattern of denial and concealment continued through the termination of inspections by Iraq. These steps included fraudulent statements, false and forged documents, misrepresentation of the roles of people and facilities, and other specific acts of deception. The pattern of deception appears to continue even unto the present. The full extent and the objective of Iraq's BW program has never been disclosed by Iraq.
Iraq's Biological Weapons Program, Then and Now: Iraq asserts that its BW program began in 1985 and dismisses the earlier BW investigations that began in late 1972/early 1973 as being insignificant. From its inception in the 1970s, Iraq’s BW program induded both military and terrorist applications. The program included bacteria, viruses, toxins, and agents causing plant diseases. The agents included lethal and incapacitating agents for humans and economic damaging agents. The program sought enhanced virulence, environmental and antibiotic resistance, and aerosol dispersion. In other words, this was a well planned, broadly encompassing program. The covert (terrorist and assassination) feature of Iraq's program was not actively pursued by UNSCOM.
BW Program under Intelligence Service/Special Security Organization: The evidence suggests that Iraq's BW program was under the Intelligence Service/SSO. Much of this information came from senior Iraqi personnel, during the course of interviews. Hard evidence as might be expected is lacking.
Iraq's BW program (and, initially, it appears its chemical weapons (CW) program as well) was founded and funded by Iraq's Intelligence Service with some limited technical input from Iraq's Ministry of Defense. A variety of cover organizations were used to conceal the program including the Ministries of Interior, Health, and Higher Education and Scientific Research. From its inception, there were two distinct interests for the program. One dealt with the pursuit of agents that had small scale, covert application and the other would have application to larger scale strategic/military purpose.
Except for the period from 1979 to 1987 when the military portion of the BW program paralleled and was a part of the CW program under direct Ministry of Defense influence, the BW program remained (and probably remains) under the SSO (Amn al Khass). In 1987, the military relevant piece of the BW program was rejoined with the covert BW program. Iraq has repeatedly stated that the BW program was different than the other WMD programs in that it did not report to the staff of Military Industrial Commission (MIC), but rather reported directly to Hussein Kamal Hassan or his senior deputy, Dr. Amer Al Sa'adi (a similar reporting system existed for the SSO). Interview information clearly indicates that the BW-filled weapons remained under the control of the SSO up to and including whatever destruction of such weapons as might have occurred. It is likely that the BW program still remains under the SSO.
Iraq asserts that the program was obliterated in 1991 but this is patently not true. On three separate occasions in 1997 and 1998 panels of international experts reviewed all the information available to UNSCOM. These panels concluded Iraq's BW program was far more complex and extensive than that which Iraq had acknowledged.
BWProgram End of 1990: By any definition, in 1990/1991, Iraq's BW program was in an accelerating expansion phase, Iraq's bacterial BW capabilities were reasonably well established, including its ability for production, concentration, spray drying, and delivery to produce a readily dispersable small partide aerosol. Iraq was well underway in establishing a virus research, development, and production capability, but had not reached weaponization potential. Iraq had demonstrated an anticrop capability. It had demonstrated a mycotoxin capability. Although there was no information on an anti-animal program, such agents were well within Iraq's capability. Along with its agent production, Iraq was developing a weapons delivery capability, apparently for both short range and intermediate range delivery. The agents included lethal, incapacitating, and agricultural biological warfare agents. There is a major disparity between the amount of agent declared as produced by Iraq and that estimated by UNSCOM experts.
A serious issue concerns Iraq's interest in and weaponization of aflatoxin. It is apparent that Iraq's interest was in its long-term carcinogenic and liver toxicity effect rather than any short-term effects. One can only wonder what was the intended target population.
Field tests encompassed point source releases, small area contamination, and large-scale line source release and were evaluated both for tactical and strategic use. The weapons and range of agents considered provided Iraq with a variety of options for their use,
Iraq had deployed R400 aerial bombs to at least three locations in western and southern Iraq, and had also deployed Al Hussein (SCUD) missiles BW-filled warheads and at least one "droptank." Additionally Iraq had field-tested BW agents in 122mm rocket warheads and 155mm artillery shells.
Iraq also had an interest in landmines, flechettes, fragmentation weapons, drones, missiles, thin-skinned aluminum weapons, fiberglass-coated weapons, and Supergun projectiles. No investigation of field testing is acknowledged for these weapon types although there are indications that interest had developed in such weapons for biological warfare purposes.
Iraq’s BW program in 1998: Although Iraq claims that it "obliterated" the program in 1991 (without the supervision by the UN as was set out in the ceasefire resolution 687, April 1991), and in so doing it destroyed all weapons and bulk agents unilaterally without any further documentation. The evidence indicates rather that Iraq continued to expand its BW capabilities. UNSCOM monitoring, while useful in hindering Iraq's program, was not successful in preventing some degree of continuation of Iraq's BW investigations.
Expert panels concluded that it was not certain that Iraq had indeed "obliterated" its BW program. Documentation recovered by UNSCOM indicated a continued build up of Iraq's BW program capability. The organizations associated with ts BW program continued to acquire and attempted to acquire equipment that would enhance its BW capability.
Among the expansion plans were design and construction of 5,000 and 50,000 liter fermentation units for Al Hakam and Tuwaitha. Disturbingly, such procurement actions included a rather large production plant in association with external assistance. Joint negotiations centered on the design, construction, and operation of a 50,000 liter fermentation facility consisting, not of one 50,000 liter fermenter and associated lesser fermenters and tanks as might be expected for scale up of a SCP plant, but rather, five 10,000 liter fermenters and associated kesser fermenters and tanks. The key Iraqi players on the negotiating team were the head of botulinum toxin production in 1990, two BW facility engineers, and a MIC representative,
Iraq has now developed the capability to produce critical equipment (fermenters, centrifuges, spray dryers, etc.) and to produce critical supplies, e.g., standardized growth media. Interestingly, Iraq only developed standardized media of direct importance to its BW program rather than media types that